Category Archives: Flowers

THE ALCHEMIST’S GARDEN by GUCCI (2019)

 

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Blinking in the hungover sunshine in Shinjuku on Sunday afternoon, we passed, on our way to the dehydrated station, the head Gucci boutique

 

 

 

 

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and I espied these in the window. An entire new Gucci haute couture perfume collection that had come out that morning in Tokyo (we always get things late, here, most annoyingly – films often take a whole YEAR after general release elsewhere to reach these hallowed shores…..)

 

 

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A need for nourishment notwithstanding,

 

 

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I asked if he wouldn’t mind just having a quick sniff, as I thought this collection looked quite intriguing, up my street design-wise ( we are strictly non-minimalist, lavishly goth baroque botanical den decorators; don’t get me started on Marie Kondo ), and I had actually been wondering when Gucci were going to start riding the les exclusifs type bandwagon – it’s almost as if they are the very last to do so, out of everyone  – and yes I do realise that I am very late in even hearing about these new perfumes, but for a while, I have to admit that I went for about six months not even smelling a single new scent after the cyclone that was the book, I just couldn’t even enter a shop, pick up a bottle, nor spray it onto a card, as previously that had meant panic and mental ordering in the taxonomic framework – for a while I just switched off completely from it all – presumably, quite understandably.

 

 

 

 

 

 

**

 

 

 

 

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I have been fascinated for a while now by the Midas touch of the current, world dominating designer of Gucci  – Alessandro Michele, who has transformed what was once a slightly out of touch 90’s aesthetic into the world fashion brand for fashion victims –  sorry, fashion fans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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and like many other people who read this blog, I have been doused in perfume and deeply interested in all its variations for several decades – those that are in a similar position will also remember the house of Gucci in all its different manifestations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For me, there was always something slightly listless and conservative; dowdy, even, about Gucci in the eighties  – at least in terms of the visual presentation. The double G and the brown and beige pattern with the blue, red and green, was, to my personal taste, really quite ugly, and it always just reminded me of rich Italian people with nothing better to do than dress like their parents without a hint of originality or imagination.

 

 

 

 

 

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The perfumes weren’t too bad though; I posted fairly recently on Gucci Nobile, which is a fine, herbal masculine; I also loved the Eau de Gucci Concentree, which smelled of green lilies (I have a bottle somewhere but just failed to find it). Someone also gave me, a year or two ago, an extrait of the original Gucci No 1, which is really quite beautiful, from 1974, by Guy Robert, that reminded me of a peachier, more poetry induced L’Air Du Temps meets Anais Anais (or something).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 90’s, of course, brought Tom Ford and his Hong Kong hotel transformations; sleek and moneyed and sexy, along with perfumes like Envy  and Envy for Men (both brilliant -we wear both in tandem); Gucci Rush, which my brother was rocking fantastically last time I saw him, and then later, at the turn of the millennium, the much feted (by perfumistas) Eau De Parfum, which was a gorgeously rich, orange blossom violet iris that lulled you into a terrifically easeful stupor, even though it lacked a certain perspicacity (this was never the most intelligent of perfumes – it was more like a valium)…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sans Ford, things went into a kind of vacuum for a while, with perfumes that nobody remembers as different designers were at the helm and sales were not like they are now; until the move last year to a brand new store and location opposite Shinjuku station……………. I would pass the cramped old Gucci store and have a quick  glimpse but never go in – not that I could ever afford anything in any case – but since the Michele phenomenon, where he has simply

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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(cleverly?) and intuitively taken any reference from cinema, music, folklore, art, history, textbooks, and dumped it all simultaneously on the catwalk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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often to quite exciting, brilliant, and bizarre effect

 

 

 

 

 

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Gucci has entered an entire new stage in its aesthetic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the Guilty range, which according to Fragrantica, has about twenty flankers and continues to do very well (and I know people who do like this) the look of the bottle is somewhere from the older Gucci days of standard hotel rooms and ironing board city apartments; though Flora bored me to death (I was given a bottle in hospital, which I passed on to a friend’s daughter who liked it, but even on her young skin, to which that scent was ideally suited, it was dull as dish water), it did usher in this new idealised homage to 70’s Italian cinema and the countryside with Bloom, a fresh, tender tuberose I quite like, the images from flower books and maidens in Abruzzo;………. it was only natural, then, that The Alchemist’s Garden should follow on from this inspiration, as though you were returning to your grandmama in the hills outside of Milan, and all of these just happened to be in her spacious as, marble gilt sala di bagno:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

( I won’t say no……I will stay in there for hours.…..)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I think they have done quite a good job. Although, in my humble opinion, anyone who buys an entire look, be it clothes or home decor, from one designer, is a fool, as it has a cancelling and deadening effect on the senses and shows that you have very little sense of self, but are happy to walk along mindlessly as a billboard just giving free advertising space to a behemoth, there is no doubt that were I to be given a credit card with no limits and allowed to buy whatever I wanted in the Gucci store in Shinjuku, there would be quite a few bags I would be taking home with me like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman chastising the mean and belittling sales cows on Beverly Hills boulevard ; I have coveted snake hoodies for me or for duncan before in the windows of Hankyu in Ginza; I love anything tiger; tropical birds; I love Pasolini movies, and I would happily buy and own quite a few of the perfumes in this collection along with the beautifully designed candles (I am actually considering going and wasting some money on a bee-encrusted porcelain incense holder, just for the hell of it (no actually, it would look perfect in our house…it’s just, do you really want to plonk down the cash on the glass table for such overpriced items of luxury when you know that you can’t really afford to….?)
……This was an issue as we entered the cool and rarified confines of the shop. We were weighed down with nimotsu; bags and our suitcases rifled with costumes and artefacts from the performances we had done at various venues across Tokyo; we looked ragged and ravaged and un-Gucci; and yet the staff had obviously been prepared very well and knew how to take care of the customers without being too snooty, or at least just attaining the right level of snoot not to deter, but not, necessarily, to encourage; rich Chinese were there scooping up the merchandise without turning a hair; our suitcase was whisked off, and as I stood next to the shelf with the Alchemist’s Garden – ooh, let me try the violet (very nice; sweet, dense, classical, with a Louve-like undertone, I could definitely have used it), I realised that I wanted to smell them all, which is not what you do when you are in Japan; you smell one, if they will let you, and puzzle over it, before, being guided by your master or mistress of behooven politesse, going on to the next: naturally there are no samples, so you have to do all of your business under the hawkful eye of the be-Gucci’ed assistants and their immaculate hair and makeup, although ours was an American returnee who had a delicate air of refinement about her, and was pleased to guide us through the maze of sheening alchemy; I told her that I was in Japan Vogue,  we had just gone to buy it at Kinokuniya bookstore, an amusing and probably never to be repeated experience), but it was a shame that, as I rummaged around in my white pancake stained rucksack for said magazine, I retrieved it with some wet boxer shorts stuck to the cover, everything shoved in at the last minute as we tried to clean up the ‘rock-star’ like carnage of our hotel room ( “ this is probably the worst ever”, said Duncan as he surveyed the room at 5:30am  before we crashed); Madame Gucci, looking down at this slovenly mess may have cocked an eye or she may have not, but in any case, would you like some tea, she said, and sat us down as the assistants sprayed the majority of the collection onto gild edged little cards placed in envelopes, which, in our scum-luggage, somehow all got bled together, and rendered me unable to be sure if what I was smelling was what actually the perfume in its undoctored entirety.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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(you’d better get it right, proclaim the rubberised, self-head-wielding Gucci models)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Okay then, I will try – – – – –  as I did wear a couple on skin and was still compos mentis enough to just about take in the collection, which surveying each one pleasedly, I thought had a certain delicacy to it (Winter’s Spring, which reminded me a little of Kenzo Summer with its aerated of mimosa, was the clue that these perfumes were composed by Alberto Morillas, whose work I usually enjoy). Like all instant libraries by one house, they are attempting to satisfy everyone at once with a full range of note-oriented fragrances, be it lavender, rose, oudh, iris, but though far too expensive – The Virgin Violet, after tax, would have set me back about 40,000 yen, or four hundred dollars, and that isn’t even the most expensive set of smells – I thought that these, with their overall consummation of packaging and scent,  were quite good. The Voice Of The Snake was a leathery oud saffron patchouli that imbued itself into all of the other scent cards; the balance was just right though I thought;

 

 

 

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A Song For The Rose has got Tokyo written all over it; a rose in the style of Le Labos’ Baie Rose – peppery, woody and an upper layer of not too sweet clear fashionable roses (and there is something, don’t you think, about that blue and gold embossed box?), this one will undoubtedly be the store’s biggest hit, easy to wear for either sex with money to burn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Eyes Of The Tiger has nothing to do with Sylvester Stallone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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but is a pleasing amber, labdanum and vanilla  perfume, soft and wearable, that I wouldn’t mind trying agin on the skin

 

 

 

 

 

 

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(sorry!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also really liked the

 

 

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which would be very pleasant to dab on before midnight in your

 

 

 

 

 

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Gucci silk snake pyjamas ( I will leave those hideous rainbow platforms though)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

but I am getting tired, now, and can’t remember much more about the collection in detail (sorry for the vagueness; perhaps we can all fill each other in a bit more on what the other perfumes in the range are actually like; I know I was cheerful enough with the overall impression to go and have another look):: : :  :let’s Gucci!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the meantime, I think my tiger’s eyes might be focused more intently on this bee from the Herbarium collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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though D, it has to be said, was more generated towards the slightly grotesque, and cumbersome,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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stag beetle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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‘PERFUME : IN SEARCH OF YOUR SIGNATURE SCENT’ IN THE JUNE ISSUE OF JAPAN VOGUE

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Along with Naomi Campbell !

 

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Wish it was me on the cover but you know that Naomi looks better in that tight-fitting dress.

 

 

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THE DREAMING ::;::::::::MELODIE DE L’AMOUR, ISSARA, SILLAGE BLANC, ERAWAN, OUDH INFINI + SPLENDIRIS by PARFUMS DUSITA (2015-19)

 

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“It’s true that man should not give in to the dream, but without it, what is life?”

 

 

 

 

This poem, by Thai poet Montri Umavijani, father of the perfumer and founder of Parfums Dusita, Paris, Pissara Umavijani, in its simplicity, and philosophical profundity, really speaks to me. You might even say my life is based on this push and pull, as is D’s, for sure, as is many people’s ( but not everyone: I feel certain that a majority of people are more rooted, and contented, in ‘reality’…… there  are some of us certainly more lost to dreams, or ‘giving in’ to that impulse to escape into anywhere other than hard facts, railway tracks, and the ticking of the clock.

 

 

Les Parfums Dusita specifically promote  Siamese influences in their creations ( I would actually like to interview the owner and maker of the perfumes to ask her specifically about this ); my own knowledge of Thailand is limited to a trip we made to Bangkok and the island of Ko Samui over twenty years ago; a wooden hut on the beach; mosquito nets, the warm waves lapping at the bottom of the submerged poles; the brilliant gold of the royal temples; coconut milk straight from the cool warm source.

 

 

Other things : Thai food, which I adore – one of the only cuisines to stir both the appetite and the loins simultaneously  (some French dishes share this attribute, interestingly) ; thinking about this piece I found myself wondering how relevant a link there might between food and perfume ( I had some jasmine and orange blossom yoghurts the other day that blurred the lines quite beautifully ). If British traditional food is simple, plain, pleasing, but unadorned, then Floris, Penhaligon’s, Woods Of Windsor, Yardley and the like perhaps share perfumed characteristics; France, with its rich, complex sauces, has the eroticism of Dior and Guerlain; Italy more vivacious, tasty, easily satisfying – something I find to be true of many Italian perfumeries like Santa Maria Novella, Profumum, I Speziali Fiorentini and so on; and this with its perturbingly satisfying fermented fish sauce bases; chillis, fresh herbs and spices, you can’t help wondering if some of the very pungent aromatic elegance of Thai traditional food will find its way into Dusita.

 

 

 

But first back to dreams. I have written about this before, but one of my very favourite film directors is Apichatpong Weerasethakul, who won the Palme D’Or in 2010 for his exquisite Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives ( Duncan did past life regression at the weekend ……… more on that later ); a slow moving immersion of cinematic poetry that takes you to places you have never been to before nor thought of going ( that is, if you can stay awake: many – finding his films plotless and excruciatingly low paced, cannot). I am / we are the opposite : as Duncan lay sweating in a delirious fever in Laos I wrote about the film Tropical Malady, which for me is one of the best films ever made; on Sunday night we were lost in Blissfully Yours, his second film; in hospital, this time two years ago as I lay recovering from my leg operation and the extraordinary trauma of it all, for both of us, as  we watched his beautifully serene and strange film Cemetery Of  Splendour, the wind outside blowing the curtain gently, mirroring the same scene in hospital, a man with injured legs, with a visitor ( both of us in pale green pyjamas), the breeze blowing in through the curtains in his room, it felt like some kind of passageway into another world : mystifying, yet cleansing and purifying.

 

 

 

All of the films I have seen so far by Apichatpong Weerasethakul deal with reincarnation, in which spirits live side by side with the living,  come back to visit us, or we are suddenly plunged into remembrances of being a Laotian princess from centuries before, being ravished by a catfish; or in the case of Cemetery Of Splendour, soldiers with a catatonic sleeping sickness are fighting battles in other realms, other centuries, a deep belief in other rooms, other lives, which is apparently how many Thai people experience reality.

 

 

 

 

To preface perfume reviews with all this might seem indulgent and perverse (forgive me if that is so : my reality is not so good at the moment : I have found, and am finding, the adaptation from the surreal thrill of everything that happened in London to the isolated timetable of my peripatetic loneliness unacceptable – something is going to have to change; I have reached a crossroads and feel slightly as though I were drowning ), but Parfums Dusita itself is based, it seems to me, on similar ideas, about giving, or not giving, into the dream; Pissara’s father,  a wanderer who condensed his experiences into encapsulated poetry, apparently, according to one quote I found, had similar feelings about identity to the ones that I do:

 

 

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He said there were two kinds of journeys, from the familiar to the strange, and from the strange to the familiar, and some of the perfumes I have sampled by Dusita do definitely make me feel like this:

 

 

 

 

 

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Melody De L’Amour, a ravishing white floral with an animalic, woody finish – all tuberose, gardenia, honey, Indian jasmine  and Mona Nuit Noire sultriness, is quite something: tenderly erotic, potent yet refined- the passion of the above poem suited to its colouring in of emptiness and the void of nothingness ( I often feel at the moment ); Oudh Infini, again, connects a very rude core – on certain days, the sheer animal of the Laos Oud Palao  base is simply shocking, not suitable for society, and yet at others I have understood the poem, which I don’t have to hand – I am on the train, speeding across the countryside to my evening’s teaching assignation, and might not even be able to finish this; it may have to be a two-parter – one moment in the early morning there was indeed a beautiful, noble freshness that aligned with the poetic line about a streak of silver in the morning light painting the whole sky shining gold….

 

 

 

I talked before about the relation of food to perfume, and if there is one. The umami, bodyliness that lies at the base of many Thai dishes: it does seem that this perfumer is specifically seeking a sublimation of erotic impulses almost hidden within her perfumes, an aspect of her style I like on the whole for its forthrightness but cannot necessarily carry off convincingly on myself. The new Splendiris, for me, has some similarities in terms of its musky, cedarwood base notes to both Melodie D’Amour and Oudh Infini – but I think I prefer my irises more plaintive and unsullied.

 

 

 

Issara, a fresh, musky hay scent with vetiver, sage, pine needles and other wood notes, smells absolutely gorgeous on the D and he might even get himself a bottle: sensual yet fresh, it reminds me a little of how he used to be in  Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male back in the nineties, a very natural, warm masculinity with the ideal sillage.

 

 

Erawan, a darker, greener masculine based on vetiver and clary sage, is spikier and dark; resonant, like the lovers entering the jungle at night in Tropical Malady and transforming into mythical beasts. There is an interesting music to this scent, even though I am not the world’s biggest clary sage fan ( as some friends of mine know – and you are probably reading this; drinking alcohol and inhaling this herb together can be deleterious to the mind; it can even make you go a bit nuts ( but no details, please ); I probably wouldn’t wear this one for that very reason – the clary sage is quite prominent here – but I do find it original and intriguing.

 

 

 

 

Of the ones I have tried so far, probably the marvelous Sillage Blanc is the one I would wear most easily myself. In my notes to myself I wrote that it is

 

‘like vintage Paco Rabanne Pour Homme and vintage Cabochard de Gres parfum meeting in space and falling in love ‘

 

 

 

with this perfume the possible progeny; a gorgeously dry, green and powdery patchouli chypre with an excellent scent trail that brings to mind the classical French perfumery that Pissarra Umivijani obviously respects, and is channelling, yet through a modern, and quite different, thoughtful, fragrant consciousness.

 

 

 

 

 

To be continued..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PRINCE & HIS PARADISE OF FLOWERS

 

 

 

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via PRINCE & HIS PARADISE OF FLOWERS

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April 22, 2019 · 3:15 pm

rotting datura

 

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How nice to have a weekend free after surviving six days on the trot :; yesterday at home with wine and cooking and an 80’s kitchen disco, blissfully listening to all those old 12” singles we lugged at backbreaking maximum weight from England to Japan.

 

Today, en route from Kannai station down Isezakicho street to our favourite Thai restaurant, Im Aroy, Japanese jasmine perfume already in the bag; Thursday, here I also picked up a pristine Ricci Capricci velvet-boxed parfum for virtually nothing, and there will be more later – we passed these dangling, perfumed atrocities that I immediately recognized as Hell’s Bell’s, Devil’s Weed, or Datura, one of the absolute poisinest plants in the natural world, psychotropic to the max, leading to hypothermia, convulsions, visions, and death (and probably easy to just slip into someone’s tea).

 

 

I grasped and inhaled one of the non-decomposing flowers pictured, and it smelled beautiful – literally intoxicating, and much closer to Serge Lutens’ Datura Noir than I had ever realized

 

 

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Cherryade and the fluff: G de ROMEO GIGLI (1994) + DIAMONDS AND RUBIES by ELIZABETH TAYLOR (1993)

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via Cherryade and the fluff: G de ROMEO GIGLI (1994) + DIAMONDS AND RUBIES by ELIZABETH TAYLOR (1993)

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April 13, 2019 · 11:06 am

TOKYO CHYPRE: : : INOUI by SHISEIDO (1976)

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via TOKYO CHYPRE: : : INOUI by SHISEIDO (1976)

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April 10, 2019 · 10:13 pm